The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) define counselling, along with psychotherapy, as being “umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies” (BACP, 2012: 1). In addition, counselling is provided by practitioners who “work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change or enhance their wellbeing” (BACP, 2012: 1). Those who practice counselling in a professional manner undergo intensive training and personal development, the latter of which has been “defined in terms of self-awareness and change” (Wheeler, 1996: 75). These changes, according to Johns, “influence the whole person” (Johns, 1997). This research proposal highlights how student counsellors’ significant relationships can be impacted by this intensive training regime. After discussing the literature on this topic, the aims, objectives and rationale for this research will be provided.
1. Research Aims and Objectives
The aim of this small scale qualitative research is to explore the impact of the personal development element of counsellor training and how this affects the student counsellor’s significant relationships. The focus will be on, though not solely, student counsellors’ relationships with partners. However, reference will be made to other types of relationships. This aim will be achieved via semi-structured interviews examining the specific concepts of personal development, self-awareness, changes in personal relationships, as well as a full comprehensive exploration of student responsibilities in significant relationships. The data will be analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) (Smith, 2003), which will provide the lived experiences of participants.
The rationale for conducting this research is that personal development and self-awareness are key elements of counsellor training programmes designed to promote the trainee’s personal and professional development. Counsellor training has had both a positive and negative impact on many trainees’ significant and close relationships and this may be due to the amount of time spent by trainees engaging in self-awareness and personal development sessions. This study is designed to explore this issue in more detail using the lived experiences of counselling trainees.
3. Research Questions
The following research questions are to be explored via semi-structured one-to-one interviews: * Have students noticed a change in their own personal development whilst training as a counselor? * Have students noticed any impact, positive or negative, of personal development and self-awareness training on their significant close relationships? * Is the student counsellor aware of any significant changes to these relationships and has help been available from the university? * Is the student counsellor aware of any help available for student’s families? * Is the student aware of the extent of their responsibilities to significant relationships?
4. Literature Review
Using several different electronic databases, research has been conducted to find journal publications that are relevant to the aims and objectives of the proposed research.
4.1 Search Strategy
A search of the literature was undertaken using Boolean logic, which allowed for a more sensitive search of the title and abstracts of the following databases: PsychInfo, Embase, Medline, and The Cochrane Library of systematic reviews. There were a number of keywords and phrases utilised to identify literature pertinent to this proposal, including: “counsellor training” OR “counselling training” “student counsellors” OR “trainee counsellors” AND “impact of training on significant relationships” OR “personal development” OR “personal relationships” OR “significant relationships.” The words ‘counselling’ and ‘counsellor’ were also...